Monday, May 29, 2006

Not Just On Memorial Day

By Brian Bresnahan

I am in the habit of reminding others about the sacrifice of those who defend us. And willingly do so on days other than the holidays set aside specifically for that purpose.

So much emphasis is placed on remembering the deaths of the fallen, but I feel it more important to remember what they accomplished in the struggle for freedom. The words of a young Marine Lance Corporal from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines are powerful reminders of what we need to focus on. In remembering his fellow, fallen Marines he said, “I want them to be remembered for what they did, not just because they died.”

What have the deaths of our fallen men and women attained?

Their deaths allow each of us to live freely. Their deaths let us fully experience secure lives of liberty and allow each man and woman to be equal. Their deaths allow each of us to exercise the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to which Our Declaration of Independence speaks.

Their sacrifice through each of America’s wars has been against a different threat, each needing to be fought differently. With each war, a new threat had to be understood and the doctrines of old had to be replaced with new strategies, tactics, and techniques. The warriors we honor, in their pursuit of victory, each, in some way, had to change and improve upon that which had been done before. They fought off the insistence for the old way of thinking and forged ahead on new paths toward victory.

And not only did they have to adapt to the new dangers presented by each enemy, but each time America’s citizens had to adjust to the new threat. Through the course of American history, our military and citizens alike have had to shake ourselves loose from that which had become normal, routine, common, and comfortable each time a new enemy arose.

And now, finding ourselves at war again, it is imperative we realize we are fighting a different kind of enemy in a different kind of war.

This enemy does not subscribe to the basic tenets of human morality. They don’t care about human life. Nor do they care about the rules derived from the God-given right of all people to exist; the same philosophies upon which our nation was founded.

This enemy follows no rules, even breaking the rules of the religion which they claim to fight in the name of. And they certainly don’t care about fighting us within the constraints of rules we see as necessary to civilized society.

This enemy thinks differently than any we’ve faced before. He does not play by any of the international laws of warfare that many in America contemplate when prescribing our conduct of the war on terror. Constitutionally, legally there is room to expand how we fight this enemy, but because it’s new it’s uncomfortable, and that makes it controversial. Being controversial makes it great political fodder. Thus, our national defense takes a backseat to political wrangling, political posturing, and the pursuit of personal power.

The enemy ignores all the rules, while we, with great danger to ourselves, insist upon wearing the cement shoes of inflexibility and antiquity, trying to invoke inapplicable Constitutional constraints because too many here hold politics and personal gain above common sense and national security.

The uniqueness of our Constitution gives us great power as a nation and has carried us through hard times, but it is not an inflexible document. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper Number 23, "The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed." So, for the care and safety of our nation, we must work and adjust to meet this enemy which does not follow our Constitution, its articles, or the multitude of rules we have interpreted from it and imposed upon ourselves.

Those who have died fighting this new enemy in the Global War on Terror and those still fighting have, like the warriors before them, found ways to adapt to and defeat this new enemy. So, shouldn’t we as a nation honor their sacrifice by also finding new ways to defeat a new enemy, as we’ve done so many times before?

Beyond Memorial Day, remember those who have fallen in the Global War on Terror for all they’ve done to secure the future of our nation, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the freedom loving world. Remember them for crushing the Taliban, scattering Al Qaeda, removing Saddam, and establishing democratic nations where none existed. Envision the impact their sacrifice has on our future the way John Adams saw the future when he said of our first step toward freedom, "I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means..."

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